A newborn needs a bottle of breastmilk about every two to three hours. That means, at least during the first few weeks, a mother must pump about 8 to 12 times each day to produce a healthy milk supply.
That’s a lot of time for pumping. And if you break those sessions down (about 10-30 mins each slot), pumping and preparing to pump starts to sound like a full-time job. The thing is, many nursing mothers already have at least a part-time job, while others actually do hold down a full-time job.
The workplace is relatively accommodating to nursing mothers, but breast milk pumping at the office wouldn’t be possible if those large clunky machines were still the only options on the market. Thankfully, pumps today are much more discreet, form-fitting, and – above all – portable.
Enter Today’s Portable Breast Pump Options
There are three main pumps these days that have high popularity among mothers (and fathers). The Willow is a hands-free, tube-free pump, which aims to make the pumping experience “better for mothers.” The Elvie Pump is “the world’s first silent wearable breast pump”. The Freemie pump is a high-grade hospital efficient machine that is compact, quiet, and wearable.
Of course, it’s not as simple as just buying the smallest pump. Your bra must also be compatible with the type of pump, so you need to find the best bra for your elvie or other similar wearable pumps.
So, why are portable pumps such an amazing accessory for the nursing mother?
Let’s be honest, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you see the word “pump”? It’s the noise, isn’t it? Pumps are loud, not quiet, and unobtrusive. When trying to work, the last thing you want is a mechanical whirr annoying your colleagues in the next cubicle.
In my experience, some pump motors are still loud enough to be heard on a conference call, so working mothers may not choose to buy them for that reason. Or if they do, they will still feel self-conscious and search for a quieter office location to complete the pumping session.
But some modern pumps can be working at full capacity and the sound barely rises above the baseline office din. Unless a person was really listening for the motor, no one in the office would know a breast pump was operational at all.
Perhaps if you turn it on during a client meeting in a boardroom, then someone might hear the pump. But even if anyone in the meeting truly cared (they probably don’t) just schedule meetings between your pumping sessions instead. There’s really nothing stopping you from portable pumping at the office aside from what you think others might think. And quite frankly, worrying about that is far too mentally taxing for anyone, let alone nursing mothers.
As a kid with an annoying virus or cold, I’m sure you thought that once the pounding headache disappeared, you would try to appreciate what it was like to have a clear nose.
Well, the same goes for nursing mothers. Only when you’re forced to sit down, prepare, and then hold one of those cumbersome pumping machines do you appreciate having two hands-free. Modern portable pumps let mothers set up, plug in and start pumping so they can carry on with whatever task they were performing before the session began.
The benefits to a working mother are obvious. But really any task around the house, picking up supplies, driving, gardening, reading, browsing the internet for articles about breast pumping – anything at all – are eminently possible by using a hands-free pump. The Elvie breast pump also recharges in around two hours using a micro-USB charger, so it will be ready when you are ready.
Of course, finding the correct bra and outer clothing is still a key component. And the degree of mobility you will achieve with a portable pump depends on the price, since some options can be dreadfully expensive. But you’ll quickly find the little beeping sound indicating the bag is full of breastmilk is a great feature because you could forget you’re wearing a pump!
They relieve pain
Speaking of the right choices, it’s important to pick a pump with the correct flanges (the cone-shaped pumps over the breast) for the size and dimension of the breast. Getting this wrong could mean pumping is a more painful experience than it needs to be.
Pumping also helps relieve any pain from the buildup of milk in the breast.
My wife managed to pump milk, rather than use formula, which was a good thing considering no formula can ever really replace natural breast milk. However, it wasn’t easy because her breasts were very tender and the pump was discomfitingly painful each time it was in use.
Over time, that pain cooled down and she was able to pump regularly with the correct flanges and a portable pump. But for a while it was tempting to switch 100% to a bottle and use formula instead, just to avoid the pain of pumping.
There’s plenty of storage
Breast pumps are designed by people who think a mother’s time is valuable. They are portable, discreet, quiet, and efficient precisely because modern mothers don’t want to have to choose between a baby and their career.
But it is important to store any milk in a cool place. Breast milk contains all the nutrients necessary for their growth and lets them develop a strong immune system to help protect them from infections. Yet it is also a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
Chances are the office has a fridge or two, so carve out a space for your milk on a shelf. Your colleagues won’t mind. Another option is to buy a backpack with a cooler compartment. The Teamoy version is great since it has a flat bottom and won’t fall over in a gust of wind, spilling its contents everywhere.
Overall, with a great portable pump, the right bra, cool storage, and a devil-may-care attitude, a new mother can still get a lot done while producing nutritive milk for her newborn.
I’m a first-time father and when my daughter doesn’t occupy me, I lead agile R&D teams as a scrum master. I started my site to share with you my lessons learned, research I’ve made along my journey. My Mission Is To Help You In A-Z Of Fatherhood.